Hundreds of Eurostar passengers have been rescued after being stuck for hours in sweltering heat when their train broke down in a tunnel following a power failure.
Travellers complained they were stuck in 40C (104F) heat with no air-conditioning after the high-speed Brussels to London train came to a stop near Halle in Belgium, before they were allowed off and waited at the side of the track.
The rail firm has confirmed people were stuck for three hours before a train arrived to take them back to the Belgian capital.
Eurostar confirmed there was no air-conditioning but said the train doors were opened for ventilation so they could step outside and on board staff handed out water.
So @Eurostar I am one of hundreds of people on the fire-struck 10.56 train Brussels to London. We are being held in a tunnel. Babies are ill, people are fainting. We were promised a rescue train. It’s been two hours. Where is it? This is very unsafe. Legal action ahead. pic.twitter.com/KaryCiD4zh
— Katy Brand (@KatyFBrand) July 24, 2019
Among those who tweeted their anger at the company was comedian Katy Brand, who wrote: “Babies are ill, people are fainting. We were promised a rescue train. It’s been two hours.”
Pictures showed the frustrated passengers sheltering under a bridge in Belgium after the train was evacuated.
Another frustrated passenger, Melissa Houghton, posted pictures of travellers standing at the side of the track, with the words: “Stuck on Eurostar train from Brussels to London for two hours with no air con and 40 degree heat, finally just evacuated.”
She then added: “It’s actually been over 2 hours, closer to 3 hours. We messaged our family at 11:15am that the train had stopped. Power was shut down on the train shortly after.”
Ms Houghton later said she got on a “rescue train” which was heading back to Brussels.
Stuck on @Eurostar train from #Brussels to #London for 2 hours with no air con and 40 degree heat, finally just evacuated #heat #trainfailure #evacuated #eurostar #stillsmiling pic.twitter.com/8u3l34g5Y3
— Melissa Houghton ✈️ Travelling (@meliss_houghton) July 24, 2019
Eurostar said they do not give out passenger numbers but one passenger estimated there were 700 people, close to the train’s full capacity, waiting in the tunnel.
Four other services were cancelled as a result of the power failure and a Dortmund-Paris service was also stuck, Eurostar said.
One passenger, Paul de Gauwe, said the train stopped somewhere near Tubize, near Brussels.Eurostar said in a statement on its website: “We apologise for the inconvenience and we thank you for your patience. We expect traffic to resume later but we expect significant delays. We’re advising people not to travel unless necessary and offering free exchanges on their tickets or refunds.
“We are working to resolve this as soon as possible, and another train has been sent from Brussels to collect travellers on board.
Well fancy that!
Heat causes rail speed restrictions across France and pax urged not to travel.
Never happens anywhere else, eh?
Yeah, right. https://t.co/p1nzTm0f2Y
— Nigel Harris (@RAIL) July 24, 2019
No reason has been given for the power failure but services between London and Paris are not believed to be affected.
The train was reportedly one of Eurostar’s older Class 373 units, which have room for around 750 passengers.